The planners and architects of tomorrow will have a range of tools available to them that their predecessors had likely never dreamed of. Predicting which of these developments will be truly transformative is an impossible science and will vary significantly from city to city. But exploring the potential implications and applications of a range of technologies will highlight the range of possibilities ahead of us – leaving us both prepared and in a position to better control the fate of cities.
In order to do so successfully, it will be crucial to retain a focus on utilising technology as a means to anticipate and manage change within urban areas to create and maintain good quality sustainable environments.
We will need measures at the national level to help enable new technology to play a role across boundaries. Globally, a strong cultural shift will be required – moving away from the model of business as usual to an approach that enables the economy to thrive within resource constraints.
2015 will be crucial to the future development trajectory of cities in 2025. In September, the United Nations is expected to agree a new set of Sustainable Development Goals which will define a new set of international development objectives, one area expected to be included is an objective to make cities more sustainable. In December, the Paris summit will attempt to finalise a new climate change agreement. Although the impact of the two global agreements will be crucial in ensuring future prosperity for cities, national, regional and local governments should seek anyway to develop smart city solutions to ensure cities can be future-proofed effectively.
There will be no one size fits all or quick solutions to the complex interests and failings accumulated over centuries of development. Local governments will therefore be crucial in creating ambitious and proactive area-specific planning policies and programmes that integrate climate change, public health and ageing population priorities into planning policies and development to achieve a long-term approach.